Bram Stoker’s bloodsucking anti-hero is given a family-friendly, computer-animated makeover in Hotel Transylvania.
Set in a leafy corner of Romania, Genndy Tartakovsky’s lively romp imagines the Prince of Darkness as an overly protective father who has spent 118 years filling his daughter’s head with horror stories about vicious humans.
The Count doesn’t even feast on the neck of buxom wenches.
“Human blood is so fatty and you never know where it’s been!” he explains.
This cuddly Prince of Darkness is joined by a menagerie of famous ghouls, ghosts and grotesques, all of whom turn out to be deeply misunderstood, fun-loving misfits, who are tired of being the target for torch- and pitchfork-wielding villagers.
They just want to be loved, festering limbs et al.
Built in the late 19th century, Hotel Transylvania is the five-star home of Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) and his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez).
Creatures of the night flock to the hotel every year to celebrate Mavis’s birthday and to catch up with their fellow denizens of the dark.
Frankenstein’s monster (Kevin James) and his wife Eunice (Fran Drescher) excitedly check in along with Griffin The Invisible Man (David Spade), Murray The Mummy (Cee Lo Green), and Wayne Werewolf (Steve Buscemi) and his wife Wanda (Molly Shannon), whose litter of pups gnaw through the furnishings and relieve themselves in the lobby.
Thankfully, flying witches keep the property spick and span, while mummified porters shuffle up staircases with the guests’ luggage.
A wayward backpacker called Jonathan (Adam Samberg) stumbles upon the hotel and Dracula hurriedly hides the new arrival in a storeroom, explaining to the human interloper that the clientele won’t kill him “as long as they think you’re a monster”.
“That’s kind of racist,” replies Jonathan.
So Dracula ruffles Jonathan’s hair and applies some grey make-up to transform the teenage tourist into Johhny-stein.
When Chef Quasimodo (Jon Lovitz) and his pet rat Esmeralda scent a human in the hotel, poor Dracula must risk everything to keep Jonathan’s true lineage a secret.
Adding to the fanged host’s woes, Mavis experiences a ‘zing’ of true love with Johhny-stein and she nurtures dreams of running away with her beau to experience life outside of claustrophobic hotel walls.
Hotel Transylvania is colourful and fast-paced, and the friction between Dracula and his inquisitive daughter sparks an occasional smart one-liner (“You’re barely out of your training fangs!”)
However, there’s a paucity of originality in the script and characterisation is reduced to bestowing each monster with a single quirk.
Vocal performances are solid if unremarkable and, surprisingly, director Tartakovsky doesn’t tailor any of the scenes to the 3D format, so it’s a pointless expense to shell out on the uncomfortable plastic specs.
by Damon Smith